Lafayette General Health is pausing its community COVID-19 testing efforts in St. Martin Parish for part of this week. Testing in Arnaudville ends today.
The gist: Nationally, there’s growing concern the U.S. may already be seeing signs of a second wave — researchers say it’s still the first wave — in states that have begun to reopen, including Louisiana’s neighbors in the South. Locally, healthcare providers are keeping an eye on a sustained growth in new cases.
Here’s the data:
- 47,172 (+4,122) cases statewide; 2,906 (+75) deaths
- 3,157 (+576) cases in Acadiana (LDH Region 4); 193 deaths (+10)
- 1,202 (+305) cases in Lafayette; 32 deaths (+2)
“Let’s just say we’re hoping for the best but prepared for what may come,” Lafayette General Health’s spokeswoman says of the uptick the hospital group is experiencing this week. Patricia Parks Thompson says the system’s five hospitals treating COVID-19 patients had been holding steady at about 20 patients last week (two on vents at the time and three others on vents pending results), but that number has increased more than 50 percent. The system is up to 32 positives today (four in ICU, one on a vent) with another 13 inpatients who have COVID-19 symptoms awaiting test results. “They’re treated as if they are positive, put in an isolation room,” Thompson says.
That’s an alarming increase. In fact, a few weeks ago the main campus, Lafayette General Medical Center, closed its fifth floor COVID-19 unit and only had a few patients on the fourth floor coronavirus unit. Last week the decision was made to reopen the fifth floor.
Since the Phase 2 opening on June 5, Lafayette Parish’s case count has risen 41 percent. Excluding the 152 cases reported in a released backlog, the rise is 25%.
“We know that people are really starting to let their guard down,” Thompson says. “We’re seeing case counts rise across the state,” she adds, also noting the impact of increased testing. The LGH system’s peak, reached the day after Easter, was 72 patients. “We’re in very good shape for PPE [and staffing] this time,” she says.
Trend to watch this week: Over the weekend, LDH released another backlog of coronavirus cases dating to late April, registering almost 1,300 statewide on Saturday. Lafayette Parish added 152 new cases out of 3,530 tests, briefly reversing the recent climb in positivity. On Monday, Lafayette added 54 new cases for a cumulative positivity of 5.2%, while statewide positivity declined to 9.1%. — Additional reporting by Leslie Turk
The gist: Hospitals within Lafayette’s two major health systems got federal relief from the CARES Act that will only cushion the blow from COVID-19 losses, mainly attributable to postponed elective procedures.
Lafayette General Health began offering voluntary coronavirus antibody testing to its employees this week. It will offer the lab-based serology test to all of its 4,500-plus employees and nearly 1,200 providers across its health system.
Lafayette General Foundation is raising money to pay for laundry for hospital employees, giving a boost to a local startup
Lafayette General Health confirmed today that is working with Vitalant, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit community blood service providers, on collecting convalescent plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 as part of a program to treat patients infected with the virus.
Lafayette General Health lays out coronavirus surge plan, offers detailed picture of hospitalizations
The gist: Lafayette General Health has added 12 ICU beds to its main campus in the Oil Center, increasing capacity to 46, which includes creation of a separate hot zone of 10 beds in order to preserve PPE while caring exclusively for COVID-19 positive patients.
A first for the hospital, and the press. Those steps comprise Phases I and II of the hospital system’s surge plan — one it’s never before had to execute — which officials laid out in a first-ever virtual press briefing Tuesday afternoon. Phase III would activate 15 more ICU beds for non-COVID-19 patients in need of critical care, and Phase IV would open up six additional ICU beds where pediatrics is currently located.
As of this morning, the LGH system — which also includes University Hospital & Clinics in Lafayette, Acadia General in Crowley, St. Martin Hospital in Breaux Bridge and Abrom Kaplan Memorial Hospital in Kaplan — has a total of 62 positive COVID-19 inpatients. Twenty of those 62 patients are in ICU, and of those 13 are on ventilators (another 14 patients are on vents pending the results of their coronavirus tests). Of those totals, the main campus, Lafayette General Medical Center, is treating 12 COVID-19 patients in its ICU, and an additional eight are in ICU pending test results. Comparably, Our Lady of Lourdes’ system, which includes the Women’s & Children’s and Heart Hospital campuses, has a total of 13 COVID-19 patients — eight in ICU and five hospitalized as of 4 p.m. today, according to a hospital spokeswoman. The Lourdes system did not release the number of pending or suspected cases.
Lafayette General Health’s system wide ICU bed count is currently 64 — LGMC – 46, UHC – 10 and Acadia General – 8. Officials were quick to point out that other facilities in the system are treating COVID-19 patients, most of whom don’t end up in ICU.
LHG got a head start. System President and CEO David Callecod said the local system has for weeks been in daily conference calls with Ochsner Health in New Orleans (the two systems are in the final stages of a merger), giving it a preview of what was to come. “We had a two- to three-week headstart by talking [to Ochsner],” he said, noting the direction LGH got specifically for PPE preservation, treatment protocol and surge planning.
Moderated by Director of Comms Patricia Parks Thompson, the briefing included Callecod, Chief Nursing Officer Renee Delahoussaye, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Amanda Logue and Chief Operating Officer Al Patin.
No layoffs in the system. “We have not had to lay off any employees at this point,” Patin said, noting there are no plans to do so, despite the postponement of elective procedures and other unexpected changes. People have been working from home and others, like surgical nurses and surgical technicians, have been going through an orientation process to work in other areas. Officials said they are doing their best to keep high-risk employees away from COVID-19 patient areas.
No racial disparity seen in the patient population locally — yet. Officials said the patient population seems pretty evenly distributed race-wise, though they noted there has been no deep analysis conducted. Louisiana and other parts of the country have reported a disproportionate number of African American patients dying from COVID-19.
No language barriers. The hospital will continue to utilize LanguageLine Solutions, officials said, an electronic-based translation system that helps medical professionals communicate with non-English speaking patients.
Seamstresses at New Iberia-based Action Specialties are turning out thousands of mask shields for Lafayette General’s frontline workers.
The Boards of Trustees of Lafayette General Health and New Orleans-based Ochsner Health have approved and signed a definitive agreement for LGH to merge with Ochsner. The systems announced the merger in September.